Thursday, January 1, 2015

Why do the Palestinians prefer to flop at the UN?

...The answer is obvious. Because accepting statehood under such circumstances would require them to recognize Israel’s legitimacy as the nation state of the Jewish people, no matter where its borders are drawn.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
31 December '14..

Supporters of the Palestinians are lamenting the flawed strategy that led them to force a vote in the United Nations Security Council on statehood for them yesterday (Tuesday). The outcome was foreordained. The resolution endorsing statehood and mandating Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank within two years failed to gain the nine votes needed for adoption. That allowed the Obama administration to avoid having to veto the measure. In response the Palestinians say they will go to the International Criminal Court to seek other ways to harass Israel. But no one should be fooled by this charade. While U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power chided the Israelis about seeing the vote as a “victory for an unsustainable status quo” it is not the Jewish state that wanted to avoid both peace and the possibility of change. It is the Palestinian Authority that is desperate to keep things as they are, not the Israelis.

The text of the resolution betrayed its true purpose. Some of the Palestinians’ supporters claim that the resolution was a reasonable attempt to force Israel to negotiate peace. But what Powers rightly characterized as the resolution’s “deeply unbalanced” nature, made it clear that this entire episode was merely a stunt. By seeking a UN diktat that would have required Israel to withdraw from territory without requiring the Palestinians to make first make peace, the resolution did nothing to advance a spirit of compromise or make such a state a reality.

As even Tzipi Livni, one of the leaders of the new coalition seeking to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel’s March election told the New York Times’ Roger Cohen earlier this month, it was PA head Mahmoud Abbas who sabotaged the peace talks sponsored by Secretary of State John Kerry. Livni, who represented Israel in the talks, said Netanyahu had agreed to continue the process on the basis of a U.S. proposal on borders, refugees, security, settlements and Jerusalem. But as he did when Netanyahu’s predecessor Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinians everything they had asked for, Abbas refused to negotiate and instead sought to torpedo the initiative by going to the UN. This marked the fourth time the Palestinians had refused to accept proposals for statehood in the last 15 years.

That means that instead of negotiating on the basis of a statehood framework pushed by a sympathetic American administration that could have given them what they supposedly desire, the Palestinians preferred to push for a UN resolution that could never have passed and which undermined the chances of ever arriving at a two-state solution to the conflict.

Why do the Palestinians prefer to flop at the UN to conducting negotiations that are already tilted in their favor by the Obama administration? The answer is obvious. Because accepting statehood under such circumstances would require them to recognize Israel’s legitimacy as the nation state of the Jewish people, no matter where its borders are drawn. They won’t do this because that would mean the end of the conflict and the whole point of Palestinian nationalism since its inception was not so much to grant sovereignty over part of the country to Arabs but to deny it to the Jews. Rather than accept a state that would be obligated to live in peace with a Jewish state, the Palestinians much prefer to engage in sterile debates in international forums that go nowhere but do advance the cause of Israel’s demonization.

Thus, the real champion of a supposedly “unsustainable status quo” is not an Israeli government that has repeatedly sought to make peace on the dubious premise that territorial withdrawals will grant them security and legitimacy. Rather, it is a Palestinian leadership that is both incapable of unwilling to do anything more than foment hatred of the Jewish state. Advocates of a two-state solution must understand that its primary opponents are not really the Israeli right-wingers who publicly oppose such schemes but rather Palestinians who will do anything to avoid negotiating a deal that would provide them with sovereignty at the cost of ending their century-old war on Zionism.

That is deeply frustrating for both American and Israelis who would like to believe, despite the evidence of the last 20years of peace processing, that more concessions will somehow entice the Palestinians to end the conflict. But after a fourth diplomatic dead-end on statehood and the prospect of more UN stunts to come, it is time to place the blame for the lack of peace where it belongs: on the shoulders of a Palestinian leadership that would rather bloviate at the UN than negotiate a solution that would finally end this war.


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